Since these terms often get confusing, I wanted to define the following:
Hard Drive / Storage: This is the physical space where all of your programs are located. It is permanent. The amount of storage is fixed. It will not change unless you had a second hard drive or replace your existing hard drive. Traditionally hard drives have been made with moving parts. There is a spinning element inside them. FYI, its not uncommon for your hard drive to go bad even after 3 years. Some people like to play it safe and even replace their hard drive pro-actively. If your computer isn’t that old, often times you can simply replace the hard drive and save yourself the expense of a new computer.
** It’s common to see hard drive sizes described in terms of GB (gigabytes) and TB (terabytes). For example: 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB.
RAM / Memory: This is the temporary storage space on your computer. When you open programs or files, the data is temporarily stored in RAM and later on when you close that item or turn your computer off, your RAM gets cleared out. On many computers, RAM is upgradable if you are seeking better performance. Unlike hard drives, RAM typically does not die all of a sudden.
* RAM is described in terms of GB (gigabytes). It is recommend that all new computers you purchase have at least 4 GB of RAM. If you run a lot of things at once, 6 or 8 GB is not out of order
Processor / CPU: This is the brain of your computer. It is a chip that embedded inside your computer tower (or laptop) on the main board (aka motherboard) of your system. Your CPU directs all the traffic to where it needs to go. The better your CPU, the faster processes get completed. FYI, your processor does NOT affect the speed of your internet connection.
** Intel makes most of the processors we buy with our computers. 5 years ago, a processor revolution began as Intel released their Core Duo line of CPUs. For the first time, Windows computer makers and Apple began using the same processors. Today, we are experiencing the 2nd generation of the Intel Core processors. These chips are marked i3 or i5 or i7. I would recommend going with one of these as a minimum if you are buying a new computer.